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Sailing in the BVIs – Day 8: Tacking Festival

This was our last official sailing day. Yolanda and I woke up early at Cane Garden Bay, got the boat ready, and left the anchorage before the rest of the crew woke up. There is something about early morning sailing that we simply love. The first part of this sail was by far our favorite sail of the trip. We had a beautiful broad reach on the north side of Tortola. We sat and relax while we planned what to do once we reached the Thatch Island Cut. The cut is the small opening between Tortola and Thatch Island that you can see on the upper left corner of the chart picture below. The guidebook recommends to motor through the cut except in calm condition and predictable wind.  We realized we would have a perfect beam reach if we sailed through the cut and the seas where calm with very little tide. So we decided to sail through it (although I had the engines on just in case) following very conservative waypoints I had selected the night before. It was definitely one of the highlights of the trip. And sadly we took no pictures of it!

But once we made it past the cut, we began what would become the epic sail of the trip:  30+ tacks bashing into wind and current towards Peter Island.  For some bizarre reason (I say because we are true sailors), we didn’t think about turning on the engines until the end. We simply assume this is what you need to do when you sail up wind and into a strong current. Yolanda did all of the hard work while I took care of the easy stuff at the helm. After 30+ tacks by herself, she clearly stablished herself as one tough sailor.

The only thing that really bothered us was that we kept getting passed by other boats, including some cats, who were going at significantly better angles towards the wind. This even included a Lagoon 450 which went by us like we were sitting still. Later on we thought that maybe they had their engines on, which helped them point higher (or at least fight the current). Maybe not, but the thought that they were “cheating” made us feel much better.

Warning some sailor jargon ahead: We also had a problem with out main 2nd reef. We could not get the clew tight enough primarily because we could not adjust the topping lift. This cat was rigged so that the topping lift line could not be adjusted at all without changing the lines that led to the helm (the line was at the mast and there is not winch at the mast). So the boom was too low for the second reef. That is, the leach reef point was significantly higher than the luff reef point. This is fixed by raising the boom, which we couldn’t do. This problem led to a lot of baggy sails under the leach reef likely contributing to our inefficient upwind sailing.

Anyhow, at the end of the day I felt very guilty for making the crew go though 30+ tacks when I could have simply turned on the engines and transform an epic 5 hour sail into a 1 hour sprint. Sorry guys. Maybe next time.  🙂


Once we got to Peter island we decided to stop for a late lunch and snorkeling session at a Dead’s Man Bay. This bay is simply gorgeous. It is relatively shallow with light blue waters and a beautiful private beach. We anchored at the eastern most side of the island in 15 feet of water. The ground was mostly sand with light grass so our big Ronca anchor held beautifully.



By mid afternoon we were ready to call it a day and we motored around the corner to Peter Island’s Great Harbor. There were very few boats at the mooring field so we had our pick of mooring, as usual. It was the last night of the trip so our crew was on a festive mood. So, the girls decided to have a girls night out and stole the dinghy

Girls Night Out

Once the girls came back we had hotdogs and leftover for dinner. This was the last night of the trip so we had to eat everything that was left. That also meant we had to consume all the alcohol we still had, which is really the best way to get ready for packing!

We were anchored directly across the channel from the TMM marina in Tortola, so it made a perfect last night stop.

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